Legendary Abbey Road Studio Recording Console to be Auctioned

It is best known as the mixing desk used to record Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon, but this Abbey Road Studios EMI TG12345 MK IV Recording Console was also used by Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr on various solo projects between 1971-1983: 

The TG12345 MK IV, formerly housed in the famous Abbey Road Studio 2, is now up for sale as “Lot 35” in an upcoming Bonhams Auction event featuring a wealth of collectable rock music items. The console comes with letters concerning its provenance, including one from Ken Townsend, Abbey Road Studio manager at the time and future Chairman. Townsend worked with The Beatles as an engineer on numerous albums over the years. There’s a great little film about him here.

The auction will take place in New York on March 27. Click here for more details.

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A Different Australian Pressing of the Beatles “From Liverpool” Box

In a previous post we mentioned an Australian pressing on the orange Parlophone label of The Beatles Box (or The Beatles From Liverpool as it is sometimes also known) eight-record box set. This was made available via The World Record Club to its members in March, 1981.the-beatles-liverpoolbeatles-from-liverpool-label

We already had a later version that EMI distributed in November, 1982 through the Reader’s Digest organisation in Australia. That one comes with custom black, white and red Reader’s Digest labels. For more images also see here.beatles-readers-digest-label

The Reader’s Digest set is further distinguished by different packaging. Instead of a flip-top lid it came in a two box arrangement, where an inner box containing the records slides into an outer casing.

In Australia there is a third variation. It is the same 1981 World Record Club release but instead of orange Parlophone labels it is on black and silver Parlophone labels. It’s this version we have just added to the collection. It comes in a lift-top hinged box: liverpool-box-frontliverpool-box-labelloverpool-box-lid

On top of the records there’s a large fold-out poster:

liverpool-box-poster

Like the other releases each disc comes in a custom colour printed sleeve: liverpool-box-1

On the flip side of each is a track-listing and a short article about the songs and what was happening in Beatles history at the time of the recordings by Hugh Marshall:liverpool-box-1a

There are eight discs in all:liverpool-box-2 liverpool-box-3 liverpool-box-4 liverpool-box-5 liverpool-box-6 liverpool-box-7 liverpool-box-8

(Click on an image to see a larger version)

This set has the catalogue number WRC/Parlophone R91103-10.

 

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery – The EMI Manchester Square Photos

Here’s a further instalment in our occasional series on Beatle (and Beatle-related) album covers or photographs that, over the years, have been borrowed as inspiration by others.

As observed on reddit recently, it’s a surprise that more bands haven’t used this iconic LP cover photograph as inspiration:pleasepleaseme

Given that Sgt Pepper, The White Album and Let It Be have all been imitated many times in one way or another by so many bands, why not the famous Please Please Me as well?

Maybe it’s because it would be limited only to EMI artists, and also that the actual building where the picture was taken now no longer exists…..

But still, there are a couple of examples out there. The Sex Pistols did it in 1977:sex-pistols-at-emi-1977

Then Blur in 1995:blur-at-emi

Even before The Beatles looked down from that balcony, the famous English bandleader Joe Loss (signed to the EMI subsidiary label HMV) did the same pose:joeloss-at-emi-1961

And in 1983 it was Dutch Beatle Fan Club President Har van Fulpern’s turn:

har_van_fulpen_dutch_beatles_fan_club_president_19When Universal Music re-issued the Beatles 1962-1965 (Red) and 1966-1970 (Blue) albums we posted some info on the Angus McBean photo shoot location here, including a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the shoot for the Red and Blue LPs – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me release.

Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at EMI’s former headquarters in Manchester Square, London – with the group looking down over the building’s stairwell. The building has since been demolished.red-frontblue-lpClick here for the other posts in “Imitation is the Sincerest Form of Flattery”.

“Great Record Labels” Book

Chanced upon a small local garage sale (or yard sale) this morning and found this book:great-labels-cover

Great Record Labels, written by Al Cimino and published by Chartwell Books in 1992, is quite an interesting overview of some of the most famous record companies, admittedly with a strong US bias. It has some really good images liberally scattered throughout, not only of the various record company labels themselves, but also many of the artists signed to the labels too.

Cimino has split his book into five broad categories covering music from the 1950’s through to the 1990’s. He starts with Sun Records in the Fifties, and ends with Def Jam in the Nineties, and works his way through most of the big labels in between – like Atlantic, Stax, Motown, Decca, A&M, CBS, Warner Brothers, Island, and Virgin – to name but a few.

There are two main segments of the book where The Beatles pop up. First is the chapter on the British EMI/Parlophone label:great-labels3great-labels4

In the section on EMI’s US subsidiary Capitol Records there is only fleeting reference to The Beatles, despite the huge amounts of money they made for the company:great-labels9

But to make up for that there’s no less than four pages dedicated to The Beatles’ own Apple Records:great-labels5great-labels6great-labels7great-labels8

Here’s the rear cover of Great Record Labels (the dust cover has seen better days…):great-labels-rearDespite being a little beat up, this is a nice little find and a good book to have in the collection.

John Lennon “Rip It Up – 15 Rock’n’Roll Greats”

Earlier this week we reported finally receiving a replacement copy of John Lennon’s Rock’n’Roll LP.

Well, the very next day we happened to be on the New South Wales central coast and popped in to one of the best second-hand vinyl stores around – The Sound Exchange Record Bar – at a place called Long Jetty.

And what should we find there but an almost mint copy of the hard-to-find, Australia-only, ultra-budget version of the very same record:Rip It Up

In 1988 EMI licensed the rights to Lennon’s Rock’nRoll album to the Australian specialty budget label, J&B Records:J&B Logo

J&B had a large catalogue back in the day, and sold most of their records through supermarkets and department stores. Everything from Glen Campbell to Connie Francis compilations. From Roy Orbison to the Village People. They had lots of well-known Australian artists in the catalogue as well: John Farnham, Glenn Shorrock (ex Little River Band), Dragon and Billy Field. So it was a surprise to see an artist like John Lennon in there too.

J&B called their record Rip It Up – 15 Rock’n’Roll Greats. This is exactly the same songs and running order of the original 1975 Apple Records release. Just the cover was changed. Here’s the rear cover:Rip It Up Rear

And the J&B label:Rip It Up Label

As you can see, no expense was spared on the artwork! Even so, this is a really good copy for its age – still glossy front cover, no ring wear, and the record itself looks almost unplayed.

Latest Beatle Vinyl on the Universal Music Label

Since the lucrative Beatle catalogue went over to Universal Music for distribution (as part of the sale and break-up of the EMI company in 2012) there’s been a steady stream of product from released – most of it (it has to be said) re-issues of stuff we already have.

The latest of these – four albums on vinyl – are a case in point: the Beatles 1962-1966; the Beatles 1967-1970; the Beatles Number 1; and the Beatles Love.

Each of these are re-issues containing no new material. The only thing that can be said to be slightly different is that the two sets, 1962-1966 (a.k.a. The Red Album), and 1967-1970 (a.k.a. The Blue Album) are reportedly the original analogue mixes. The discs are cut direct from the analogue tapes used for the 1973 LP sets—with a few exceptions (i.e. mono versions using EQ from the latest mono box set replace the few faux stereo tracks originally used). AAA it seems is definitely the new DDD…..

It has to be said though that the packaging on each of these four Universal re-issued double LPs is impeccable. The Red and Blue albums, for example, are faithfully reproduced in thick cardboard with very shiny covers and inners.

If you speak Spanish (and you don’t get seasick from the all the camera movement) this “unboxing” YouTube video from keen Beatle collector shakespearecub gives you a good indication of both the Red and Blue LP’s in all their glossy finery (if you are pressed for time, scroll in to about 4’10”):

Here are those 2014 stickers on the front of each:

Beatles Red stickerBeatles Blue sticker

And this is the main point of difference – Universal Music logos on the back, and mentions of Universal Music and Calderstone Productions in the small print….it’s not Parlophone, Capitol, or EMI anymore:

Beatles Red rearBeatles Blue rear

These albums are also manufactured in the Netherlands – according to small transparent stickers on the back of each LP:

Beatles Netherlands

And while we’re on the subject of the Red and Blue LPs and the EMI company, here’s a video from a very keen fan who went to the trouble of tracking down the actual location of the Angus McBean shoot for the Red, Blue – and of course for 1963’s Please Please Me LP. Both photographs of the old and new Beatles were taken at the former EMI headquarters in Manchester Square, London with the group looking down over the stairwell. The building has since been demolished:

The rear photo, taken in 1969, was initially intended for an LP to be called Get Back, but those plans changed and we got the Let It Be album instead. The photo was eventually used on both the 1962–1966 and 1967–1970 LP’s.

The 2014 Universal Music edition of the Beatles Number 1 LP set also comes in a thick cardboard, this time with a matt finish gatefold cover (just like the original 2000 edition) complete with the inners, large poster (depicting Beatle singles picture covers from around the world), and the four psychedelic photographs of the individual Beatles. It’s all very nice. Again the main point of difference now is in the logos used and the small print credits:Beatles 1 LP rear

The Love LP comes in a thick cardboard gatefold cover – just like the original from 2007. And it has the same thick, glossy booklet. Top marks go to Universal for the packaging. The 2007 release had a small brown sticker on the front:Beatles Love 1

While the 2014 edition has a larger red, white and yellow sticker:Beatles Love 2

On the rear of the gatefold the logo line-up has changed. The 2007 release has Apple, Parlophone and Cirque du Soleil logos:

Beatles Love 3

The 2014 has just Apple and Cirque either side of the barcode, and a small Universal Music Group logo on the far lower right. There’s also a change to the small print. No EMI Records reference, and interestingly the Universal edition has a copyright date of 2006, while the earlier EMI/Parlophone/Apple edition is 2007. Curious:

Beatles Love 4

shakespearecub has also done an “unboxing” video of both the Number 1 and the Love LPs:

Here, There and Everywhere – Geoff Emerick

We recently purchased a nice, used hardback copy of Geoff Emerick’s fantastic Beatle book Here, There and Everywhere – My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles.

Not having read it before it’s currently our favourite, especially given the release in the last week of the The Beatles In Mono vinyl LPs as a boxed set (and also as individual albums).Here, There 1 Here, There 2Geoff Emerick was George Martin’s right-hand man in the control room at EMI’s Abbey Road studios in London. At the age of 15 (on just his second day at EMI) he was present – as an assistant recording engineer – when a scruffy-looking quartet from Liverpool came in for their very first studio session. Emerick progressed from that recording (“Love Me Do” in 1962), to being directly involved with the majority of the band’s classic albums. He confirms on a number of occasions in his book that a lot more time was spent getting the mono mixes correct as compared to the time taken over stereo.

With his ability to interpret the sounds that John, Paul, George and Ringo had in their heads as they worked at getting their songs down on tape, Emerick made a huge contribution to their records. He wanted as much as they did to experiment – to take the recording process into new and un-charted waters. Here, There and Everywhere takes us into the famous Studio’s One and Two at Abbey Road as history was literally being made.

Amongst other things we read about the antiquated attitudes, policies and equipment at EMI Records during the 1960s. Given their strict and old-fashioned rules it’s incredible that the greatness of the Beatles was ever captured at all. EMI management back in the day seemed stuck in the 1940s and 50s. As an organisation it frequently stood in the way of creativity rather than fostering it. It was Geoff Emerick who was willing to go out on a limb and flaunt the studio rules at Abbey Road to capture the sounds we have today.

One of the other big surprises in the book is Emerick’s low opinion of George Harrison. There are frequent mentions of how stand-offish and surly Emerick found him to be, not to mention that he regarded George as a pretty lacklustre lead guitarist….

Here, There and Everywhere was published way back in 2006, but it is highly recommended if you are at all interested in the Beatles and their music. The copy we have is a signed copy. It’s not dedicated to us because this one is second-hand – but that doesn’t matter. There is the signature of Geoff Emerick (and his co-author Howard Massey), a man who had a significant impact on the Beatles legacy.

We wouldn’t have the Beatle canon without him.Here, There 3